In Matthew 25, Jesus says that when we do radical things like feeding the hungry, or clothing the naked, or welcoming the stranger, or visiting the prisoner, we’re actually doing it for Him. Still, so many of us look for ways around such activities. The truth is that much of what Jesus expects of His followers is downright scary at times, and since we’re so used to protecting ourselves from the hard places in life, we have a tendency to look the other way instead of listening to and obeying His commands. Not my friend Steve. Those who know Steve would likely agree that they can’t think of a time that he has heard the voice of Jesus, and looked for a way out. Steve is one of those crazy Christians who takes Jesus’ words seriously. Steve’s ministry to imprisoned men is a beautiful thing. At a recent men’s breakfast at our church, not only were about one-third of the attendees ex-convicts, but so was one of the speakers, and the man who provided the music as well. Why were they all there? They knew Steve…and Steve takes Jesus at His word. Steve isn’t in church on a lot of Sunday mornings. Many of those Sundays I ask his wife, Carolyn, where he is, and her reply is the same, “Steve’s in prison this morning.” Why would a man choose to spend some of his Sunday mornings in a prison worshipping with hardened criminals instead of worshipping beside his wife and friends in his home church? Well…because Steve takes Jesus at His word. About two years ago, I learned that Steve and Carolyn are former foster parents. They had cared for a teenage girl for four years over twenty years ago. Eventually, the girl aged out of the system, got married and had children, but over the years, she stayed in touch with Steve and Carolyn. In fact, she still lived close by and called them mom and dad after all those years. Her kids even saw Steve and Carolyn as their grandparents. We often think that when a foster child ages out that there is no longer any chance of them having a family. We often assume that they’re so happy to have their independence that they wouldn’t be interested in having a family even if one were available to them. Yet, when I have talked to young adults that have aged out of foster care, they say that they still want a family…they still want a mom and dad. It turns out that Steve and Carolyn’s former foster daughter was no different from the former foster youth I had talked to. She not only called them her mom and dad, but she still saw them as her mom and dad. So much so, in fact, that when they presented to her what to many would seem to be a very strange idea, she said yes. Last May, in a courtroom in Los Angeles, California, that very strange idea became reality as Steve and Carolyn legally adopted their former foster daughter, now 38 years old, with her husband in attendance. The look on the judge’s face was priceless. He had presided over countless adoptions in his many years on the bench, but this one made him shake his head and want to know what was going on. It’s simple really. This woman, though approaching middle age, was still fatherless after all these years. She still wanted a mom and dad to call her own. Jesus says we are to care for the fatherless. And Steve and Carolyn take Jesus at His word. It’s my prayer that others will hear the story of Steve and Carolyn and perhaps ask God if He would have them provide a forever family for an emancipated foster youth. Maybe you’ve stayed in touch with a former foster child over the years like they did. Maybe the only thing standing between that young man or woman and a permanent place in your family is the fact that you haven’t yet considered it. If so, won’t you consider it today? Talk to God…listen to His voice, and take Him at His word.

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